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Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

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Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby MysticEvo » Fri 02.17.2006 4:12 pm

My wife and I will be leaving for Japan on March 30th and staying for 10 days. I booked all our stays in Ryokan to have hopefully the best experince. My Wife nor I have ever been out of the country. We have been learning Japanese on our own and still no very little.

1.) For any one who has visit can you give me advice. Where to go in Kyoto and Tokyo.

2.) My concern is language should I be overly concerned or just enjoy my self and things will come as they may.

3.) The Ryokan's we are staying at, I have a general Idea of where they are but I'm unable to get a map or exact directions from the nearest subway system. Would anybody be able to help me figure out the exact location. If not I can use a server in Japan to help me I was just hoping to know before I travel.

4.) We are leaving March 30th and returning April 9th will that be to early for the cherry blossoms?

Thanks for all the help
Last edited by MysticEvo on Fri 02.17.2006 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby PandanoTake » Fri 02.17.2006 6:52 pm

I'm pretty sure it's too early for sakura. As for language, I wouldn't bee to concerned. Kyoto and Tokyo have been infested with tourists for a long time now, each year having more than the last. Just be ready for what seems to you like overcrowding. I wouldn't really expect to drive much if at all in Kyoto and Tokyo, because everything is packed in so tight. Many people there don't have cars. I myself am going March 27 to April 7. My knowledge of culture is superior to most, but I can't remember everything right now, especially considering I was up late last night studying. I , however, am going to Sapporo and Otaru, yet I still urge you to consider my advice. I have done countless research and essays and seen many Television specials on events, culture, lifestyle, and statistics.

O-genki de,

Edo yori
エド より
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby MysticEvo » Sat 02.18.2006 5:51 pm

Thanks for the informaiton we actually will not be driving at all. One quick question will will be going from Tokyo to Kyoto and back and trying to figure out if we should get the green rail pass or the ordinary would be fine because that's the only time I could really see wanting the green passes. Thanks again for the help.
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby Shibakoen » Sat 02.18.2006 10:26 pm

I wouldn't spend the extra money on for the Green car, though my longest train ride was only a few hours from Tokyo to Shimoda. Tokyo to Kyoto would be another story altogether. Once in the city you really won't need Green Car tickets at all since the rides would be so short, so the only real benefit you would get from having them is on that ride between Tokyo and Kyoto. Hopefully you're taking the bullet train? I don't know if that's covered by the JR pass or not.

Anyway, if it's just those two trips that you would really have the benefit of the green car, I wouldn't do it. Anyone know if that would let them use the Green Car on the Narita Express? That would be the only other time I coul see you really getting any benefit out of the Green Car pass. Since I see that the Green Car pass costs about an extra 9000 yen per person, I'd do without in my opinion. Also, are you buying a 7 day or 14 day pass? If it's only a 7 day pass that you want to get, you might not even be able to ride in the Green Car for those days. I hope you have fun!

I don't know anything about Kyoto, so I would't know where to begin with suggestions about where to go there, but Tokyo's awesome. Roppongi Hills is a must, and I've heard Omotesando Hills is pretty cool. The Economist actually lists some places to go in their "City Guide" on their website, and they're actually pretty good suggestions. http://www.economist.com/cities/citiesmain.cfm?city_id=TK I'm going to be traveling back to Tokyo next month and my girlfriend wanted to take me to the sushi restaurant, Daiwa, in the Tsukiji fish market and it's actually one of the restaurants suggested on the site. If clubbing is your thing, you can't beat Shibuya. Harajuku is right next to Shibuya and is really cool in its own right. Aoyama is right there, too. Let's see... Roppongi, Azabu, Odaiba... Man, you really need more than a week to see Tokyo. I'll be honest, a lot of the nice development is right around the train stations, especially the major ones on the Yamanote train line. Once you get away from the stations, well, it's not as pretty. A friend of mine compared the apartment buildings in Tokyo to those in her native Soviet Union. That said, there are some really cool places. My girlfriend's favorite place is Atago. They've got a lot of nice restaurants down there, but it can be a little difficult to get to. It's one place that's not right on a train line.

There are other great places like Asakusa, and I always liked Ebisu, but my favorite places are really all in Yokohama. It's not far from Tokyo at all. There they have Minato Mirai, Yamashita park, Akarenga, Chinatown (Chukagai) and Motomachi. All of these places are on the Minato Mirai line, which is NOT a JR line, but I know that there are JR trains that come close to these sites. You can take the JR line to Yokohama station and then transfer to the Minato Mirai line and it won't cost too much from there. I actually used to walk sometimes from Yokohama station to my gym down past the Queen's Square station, (Gold's Gym is so much better in Japan than it is here) but it is quite a walk so I wouldn't suggest it to a tourist who will only be there a few days because it takes a while. I think I got it down to 30minutes, but I only did it for the exercise. Queen's Square is a really good mall. The sky line there is really pretty cool, especially at night. They've got a little amusement park with a ferris wheel and everything, Japan's tallest building, and a bunch of really cool looking hotels. From the top of Landmark tower (the tallest building) you get a pretty cool few and you can see Mount Fuji.

Anyway, another place to go in the Tokyo area would be Kamakura, another old former capital of Japan. There are a lot of temples and stuff to see down there, but it's nothing like Kyoto, so you probably won't want to go there. Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea are pretty cool and not very far from the city toward Chiba. A little farther out is Shizuoka prefecture which I think has some really nice beaches, particularly Shimoda which is the place where Commodore Perry landed his "Black Ships" to open Japan to the west. If there is a sumo basho going on you might want to check that out. The Economist website also has quite a bit on the arts and entertainment that Tokyo has to offer.

If you still don't know where your hotel is, PM me and I'll try to find it on a map for you. You really will only need to know where the closest train station is to it because all of the taxis have navigation systems so if you give the taxi driver the address, even if he doesn't know the place himself, he will be able to find it. Well, if you've got anymore questions about Tokyo or Yokohama, let me know... Sorry, but I really won't be of any help with Kyoto.

One word of warning, if you're out late at night be aware that the trains stop running around midnight and don't start again until around 5 or 6 in the morning. So, if you're out late one night, you might just want to find a club or a bar where you'll be able to party the rest of the night since taxis can get quite expensive.
Last edited by Shibakoen on Sat 02.18.2006 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby MysticEvo » Sun 02.19.2006 5:14 am

Thank you so much for all the information. We will be taking the bullet train to Kyoto it's include in the JR pass it just doesn't include the express train so will will have a few more stops and it takes 20 mins longer. No biggy.

I just got maps for all the hotels tonight so that should no longer be an issue but I have to plot everything out. Do you know the best way from the airport in to teh city? Are first hotel is located at 2-34-10, Nihonzutsumi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0021, do you know the best way to get her from the air port? Thanks for any help with that.

As I said before My wife and I are trying to learn japanese but with such a short time I think we will be able to be polite but may not understand a lot. Do you think that will be a huge issue? I will continue to study and hope to go back in 8-12 months when I'm better able to hold a conversation but for now?

Thanks again
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby Shibakoen » Sun 02.19.2006 9:29 am

Taito-ku is a pretty good place to be. You'll be in the same area as Ueno and Asakusa. Ueno has a big park with a bunch of museums. There might be some pretty good exhibits, but I'm not sure off-hand. Asakusa is another popular tourist attraction. 雷門(Kaminarimon) and that surrounding area is very popular. I actually have pictures from there hanging on my wall. There's also a ferry near there that goes down to Odaiba which is a pretty cool place. I actually saw a special on the Discovery Channel about the construction of Odaiba, but they called it something silly, like "technology town" or something. Your exact block is a little ways from Ueno and Asakusa, probably just enough to make walking to these places a pain.

I'm not really familiar with 日本堤2丁目, but Taito City has its own website at http://www.city.taito.tokyo.jp/. Apparently there's another train station, 三ノ輪, (minowa?) closer to where you are but I'm not familiar with it. Also it looks like there's a bus that goes right by your place and goes around Taito to all the good spots, so if anyone else is more familiar with Taito, some advice on that would be good.

Unfortunately the English version of the Taito website is kind of lacking in information, but the Japanese site has a good map. Just look for ( 地図 ). That's chizu and it means "map". You can also go directly to a version of the map at http://www2.wagamachi-guide.com/taitomap/. Click on the map and another more detailed map will come up. You'll need to become familiar with some of the names of places there because the map is all in Japanese but it has tons of information, including that bus route I mentioned.

I assume you're flying into Narita airport. There's a train called the Narita Express that's a nice little train to take into the city. There's also a regular train, but the Express is nice when you have to travel with luggage. The station is right downstairs from the airport, but I don't remember exactly how to get there from the baggage carosel, but it's not too hard. Anyway, I'm pretty sure the Narita Express makes a stop at Tokyo station. From there use the Yamanote Line to go to Ueno and then take a taxi to your place. The biggest pain will be navigating the train stations with your luggage.

There are lots of people who know English, so if you basically know the place names you should be ok. It would be helpful to know certain vocabulary and phrases for when you're in restaurants and stuff like that, so I would think of situations that you're most likely going to face and focus on those (how to order in a restaurant, how to ask shop keepers for prices, stuff like that). Generally people are very helpful and it seems that Japanese customer service skills are much better than they are here in the States. Many people go out of their way to help you out. Have fun!
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby Mukade » Sun 02.19.2006 10:25 am

Places in Kyoto to visit:

Kiyomizu-dera (most recognizable temple in Japan)
Yasaka-jinja (very important shrine)
Mount Hiei (mountain with many temples and great views)
Byoudou-in (perhaps the most picturesque gardens in Japan)
Nijo-jo (Tokugawa Ieyasu's Kyoto castle)
Kinkaku-ji (the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a la Yukio Mishima's novel)
Ginkaku-ji (the Temple of the Silver Pavilion - great moss and pebble gardens)
Heian-jingu (another important shrine)
Fushimi-inari (millions of torii)

and my favorite, Sanjuusangendou (temple of 1,001 statues of Amida buddha)
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby MysticEvo » Mon 02.20.2006 12:25 pm

Thanks. I will be checking out as much as I can while in Kyoto and some of the place both of you mentioned are on my list. We will be also checking out the old imperial place. It's going to be a long great week and I can't wait. I may have more questions about the second place we are staying later but i think I've found out everything I need to know about that area.
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby MysticEvo » Thu 02.23.2006 3:45 pm

I have one question I keep forgeting to ask. Where is the best place to exchange your money either here or in Japan. My banks exchange rate is horrible so I would like to exchange my money though other means.
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Thu 02.23.2006 6:07 pm

have fun on your trip!!:D
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RE: Visiting Japan in 5 weeks

Postby AJBryant » Thu 02.23.2006 11:48 pm

I'd like to throw in a recommendation for one of the best guidebooks all around -- "Japan Solo." See if you can get a copy. I used to live in Japan, and when I go back to visit I still carry a copy of Japan Solo.

Tony
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